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Playtech Bingo Sites

Playtech are the huge organisation behind Virtue Fusion bingo sites; they also make slot games including the very popular Age of the Gods progressive jackpots.

Playtech Bingo Sites

Playtech Bingo Sites

Who are Playtech?

Playtech describe themselves as an integral part of online gaming history and they aren’t wrong!  Founded just before the turn of the millennium, they have been powering casinos since 2001. In 2006 Playtech became a public company (at first listed on the London alternative investment market and progressing to the main market in 2012).  By 2010, the year in which they made massive inroads into the UK bingo market with their acquisition of Virtue Fusion, they already had their fingers in many other pies including the huge market that is sports betting. Today they have getting on for 5000 employees spread across several different countries and they have big plans!

Playtech’s vision of the future

Playtech Bingo is the new name for Virtue Fusion, in a rebranding that has been on the cards ever since the bingo software developer was taken over by the iGaming giant.  In fact it is not just the bingo side of things that is being rebranded, but all of Playtech’s gambling related products, under the banner of Playtech ONE.  Playtech ONE means one wallet, one view, one platform for all content, all channels and all devices; in Playtech’s vision of the omni-channel future of iGaming you will be able to use your account to play any of their products on any device anywhere, anytime (and that includes devices such as TVs and games arcade terminals as well as computers and phones). As far as bingo is concerned this vision grew much closer to reality in autumn 2016 with Playtech’s acquisition of ECM systems, who are behind the electronic bingo terminals at Gala and Mecca’s bingo halls.

This all sounds amazing BUT there was a massive bump in the road to Playtech One as far as bingo was concerned and that was Adobe Flash.

What is Adobe Flash and why was it such a problem?

Adobe Flash was a browser multimedia plugin that had been around since the mid 1990s (it was previously known as Macromedia Flash) and until recently it was extensively used for video content and interactive games – including bingo games and including a very popular version of the Virtue Fusion bingo software.

Why did Playtech abandon Flash?

Basically, they had no choice. They wanted to develop their mobile product and Flash wasn’t available on Apple or Android devices or Windows phones, so incompatible with Playtech’s stated aim of seamless play across all devices.

The demise of Flash

The writing was already on the wall for Flash when Playtech decided to stop using it.  Arguably it started when YouTube, which at launch in 2005 was originally based around the Flash player, added HTML5 in 2007 so that it would work on iPads and other Apple devices (from 2015 onwards, YouTube defaulted to HTML5). In 2010, Apple published a statement confirming that there would never be any support for Flash on iPads or iPhones.  The following year, Adobe announced that it would be ceasing development of Flash for mobile platforms in favour of HTML5 (for browser content) and Adobe Air (for standalone apps).  In Android versions 4.1 (aka Jelly Bean) and later (from July 2012), Flash was not supported and although it was possible to install it anyway with a little technical know-how, it never integrated well with touch screens.  In July 2015 a further blow was dealt to the ageing plugin when the popular browser Mozilla Firefox blocked Flash completely citing security concerns. Facebook’s head of security sent a tweet calling on Adobe to announce a date for the end of Flash.  Subsequently Google’s Chrome browser began to block Flash ads and from 2016 onwards Chrome used its own version of Flash (Pepper Flash) instead of Adobe’s, again because of security issues.   Flash was eventually retired completely at the end of 2020.

What Playtech are doing instead

Playtech Bingo is written in HTML5 not Flash – basically bringing a souped up version of the version that was already in use on tablets and mobiles to the desktop.  Playtech Bingo has many advantages over the old Virtue Fusion Bingo, perhaps the most important being its lightning speed compared to the old platform.  No more cases of the game starting before you can get the bingo room open to buy tickets!  It does look quite different to the old Flash version though and some functions can be difficult to find at first, so many players were resistant to start with.

Loading 95% - time to make a cup of tea

Goodbye forever to this annoyance!

How long did it take?

A lot of players weren’t keen on the new lobby with the result that it took quite literally years to switch over.  Several new bingo sites launched with the new Playtech bingo product but none are still in existence.  The first established bingo site to make the move from Flash to HTML5 was the mighty Gala Bingo.  Starting in February 2016 Gala players were able to choose whichever version of the lobby and bingo rooms they preferred (although it had to be HTML5 if they wanted to play Gala’s newer bingo games such as The Chase and Emmerdale Bingo).  Other sites followed suit and kept the old version around for existing players who preferred it.  Eventually the Flash versions were phased out completely in plenty of time for Flash support to end in 2020.

What will happen to the Virtue Fusion name?

The Playtech branding first appeared on the new HTML5 sites plus some sites using a Playtech front end called Portal.  This user interface allowed other Playtech products including a much bigger range of slots and in some cases sports, poker or live casino to be played at the same site with the same wallet and login as the bingo; clearly this was a big step towards Playtech’s omni-channel vision even though many of the Portal sites still had Flash bingo.

Smaller sites which did not have Portal retained the Virtue Fusion branding regardless of which version of the software they had, probably because their Gambling Commission licence was held by Virtue Fusion Alderney.  There aren’t any of these left in 2022, though, and the big Playtech bingo sites all have their own licences and ther own branding.

The only place you’ll find the Virtue Fusion name still mentioned is in the terms and conditions of network promotions.  Nevertheless, players still commonly refer to the Playtech bingo product as Virtue Fusion and who knows when, if ever they will stop doing so!

Sue Dawson
Head of Content

Sue Dawson has been writing about (and playing) online bingo and slots since 2013, putting her unique spin on everything.

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